Sunday, July 13, 2008

the long version

bear with me, because this is quite the tale!

nearly a week ago, on monday, july 7, m began having a really hard time catching her breath. she had had some problems on sunday, while we were out and about on transit, but we chalked it up to the warm weather and the omnipresence of vehicle exhaust that is such a blessed part of taking the bus anywhere. but then on monday, coming home from the grocery store, m decided that perhaps she should go to the doctor.

we got home, called the doctor's office (who said to come in right away), and then i called work to let them know that i would likely be late, if i was coming in at all. i felt bad about this, because i had called in on thursday, when m first came down with this cold and couldn't take care of signal on her own. but, family comes first.

so we all piled into the car and headed across town to the doctor. m was in for about 10 minutes - long enough for the doctor to confirm that m was experiencing her first asthma flare-up in nearly a decade. we left again with a prescription for steroids, an emergency puffer and the hardware to administer it all. we pointed the car toward the pharmacy, m still none the better for having a diagnosis. the doctor had told her that she was to tolerate no worsening of the symptoms and head straight to the ER if things went downhill - so i knew for sure that i wasn't going in to work.

as all these things tumbled in my head, the white panel van in front of us threw a rock up into the passenger side of our windshield, leaving a bull's eye chip with a handful of radiating cracks. three days before we were supposed to be leaving on vacation. well crap.

things went well at the pharmacy - the pharmacists did their best to rush the prescription since m was wheezing painfully in the waiting area. signal and i cruised around the store finding all kinds of nonsense to buy - magazines, lip balm, drinks, snacks, etc. m took her first doses in the car on the way home, and while the improvement was perhaps neither immediate nor acute, it did seem to help.

so off to home. the afternoon and evening passed without event. there was no need to head to the ER. we thought we were out of the woods!

tuesday morning, we headed off for our biweekly visit to the chiropractor (though it had been more than two weeks, and m and i both were very much looking forward to being adjusted...). everything seemed normal until signal got on the exam table. as soon as dr. f touched him, he completely freaked out. crying, screaming, trying to get away. we have never seen anything like it. never has he reacted to a chiropractic adjustment that way - even if he doesn't really want to be there (restrained and kept from playing), he has never... cried. we finally got him calmed down, though. we chalked it up to the teething and all of its attendant hardships. (we had been chalking a lot up to the teething - the lack of appetite, the crabbiness, the bad sleeping.)

we headed home. i got ready and left for work, glad to be getting back, on my way to a meeting. and the auto glass guy was coming to fix the chip in the windshield before thursday's departure on vacation. about two hours into my shift, i started getting increasingly concerned emails from m about signal. he was listless, feverish, not himself. all he wanted to do was lie on the couch. he had a coughing fit that lasted half an hour and left him blue around the lips. i told m that the auto glass guy had just started on the windshield and that he was supposed to be done in 20 minutes. i told m to keep an eye on signal. m called telehealth ontario, and they told her that signal should be seen by a doctor in the next 4 hours.

so, windshield fixed, i left work halfway through my shift to go home and get my little family. off to the doctor again! about halfway up to the doctor's office, we decided that it might be best to go to the hospital instead. i think m had her suspicions that the doctor would send us to the hospital anyway, so we might as well start there.

intake was fast and easy. they got us back into the examining area and into a bed there in good time. and then the waiting began. we were taken through from the waiting room into the examination area at about 5pm. signal was finally examined by a doctor at 8pm. i think someone needs to do some research about how ER waiting times are measured. and if they are measured as the time from triage to the time when a patient is taken into the exam area (without regard to when a doctor is seen), then it is time to alter the measurement matrix a bit.

but, that is beside the point.

the doctor diagnosed bronchiolitis (baby asthma - since asthma is a chronic condition, the first time asthma-like symptoms occur, it by definition cannot generate a diagnosis of asthma) and started signal on mask treatments - ventolin administered with an oxygen mask. let me tell you right now, those were not popular. with anyone, i think! the ER doctor also said that she thought he should have a chest xray to rule out any pneumonia.

waiting waiting waiting, chest xray (more fun fun fun), waiting waiting waiting, mask treatment, waiting waiting waiting waiting, mask treatment, waiting waiting waiting.

he has pneumonia.

well, that was not what we were hoping to hear. and what's that? we are going to have to wait for the paediatrition on call to see him?

waiting waiting waiting, mask treatment, waiting waiting waiting, mask treatment, waiting waiting waiting waiting, mask treatment, waiting waiting waiting.

dr. f - paediatrition on call, and head of paediatrics for the hospital (i saw that later, on a poster). two choices. take him home on oral antibiotics and the understanding that you will likely be back here in 4-6 hours when things get worse. admit him, start him on IV antibiotics and continue mask treatments.

what's that? you are supposed to leave for vacation on thursday? admit him, it is! so, at 10pm, we decided to allow them to admit signal to the hospital, in hopes of helping along his fighting of the illness.

at this point, i decided to run home and get some supplies. i assumed that when i returned, they would have moved m and signal to the ward. alas, when i returned, roughly an hour later, m and signal were still in the ER, and signal was being stuck for the third time by some poor nurse trying desperately to find a vein - hand, foot, arm, anywhere... no luck.

they trundled us off to the ward, where the hospital's resident expert in IVs took four more tries to finally get a vein in signal's foot. at this point i had gone home. it was 3:30am.

m stayed with signal that first night. they went to sleep at about 4:00 and got up again around 6:00. it was a short night. i embarked on a new regime of NOT going to work anymore, and headed to the hospital when i woke up in the morning. m went home, took a shower, did some work around the house, and then headed back with my PJs for the night and some snack foods.

this whole time, we were continuing with mask treatments every four hours, IV antibiotics, and 28 mL of prednisone, administered orally via syringe every 24 hours.

m and i took turns staying nights at the hospital. i called work and got my manager to agree that i could work friday, monday and tuesday and then take three extra days at the end of my vacation (since we obviously didn't go anywhere thursday...). finally, on friday morning, dr. g agreed that signal had improved enough to be allowed to go home, continuing on oral antibiotics (he managed, after days of concerted effort, to kick his IV out of his foot on friday morning).

so ak went to pick up my little family while i tried to play catch-up on a week's worth of stuff at work!

the time spent in hospital was not a total bust. signal got some really good relaxation time (please note the most suspicious chipmunk):

and he got a new giant pad of paper and some really kickin' crayons:

and he got to snuggle with his mama (and vice versa) while watching the backyardigans:

back in the hospital for the first time since he was born, wearing his "pretty cuff":

i started out writing this thinking that i would be able to share the fun, the humour. but really, i couldn't find it after all. maybe i am still too tired! and to be fair, the sequence of events on monday, with the rock and the windshield - that was funny, in that neverending comedy of errors sort of way.

but really, we just wanted you to know what we spent the last 5 days or so doing. signal is very much on the mend now, though. in spite of an unfortunate encounter with some oddly dodgy milk (which resulted in a most unexpected and truly disgusting stealth vomit attack), progress has been steady and all uphill!

thanks for all your good wishes and thoughts and prayers! we promise that everyone's favourite little boy will be good as new sooner than you can say "what? you want me to draw ANOTHER cat?!"


Erin said...

OH my goodness! Poor little guy! Poor mamas too! I can't imagine what it must have been like for you two, seeing him like that. So heartbreaking...

I'm glad he is on the mend. I'll be thinking of you all. Good luck Signal!

Julia said...

Thanks for filling in all the details. Hopefully it's your last hospital trip for a while! I'm so glad that he was well enough to help us out at the wedding, and so happy that you guys were able to make it as well.